Farmer's suicides continue to wreak havoc in Vidarbha’s crisis-ridden agrarian society, as the Vilasrao Deshmukh government in Maharashtra celebrates its three-year “successful” tenure, citing “achievements” and a catchy slogan in “Farmers’ welfare… State’s welfare!"
Fourteen farmers from the impoverished region have ended their lives since Thursday, unable to repay their mounting debts.
“It is shocking that such deaths continue unabated despite the central and state government funding to bail out the region's distressed farmers,” said a district official on conditions of anonymity.
President Pratibha Patil had expressed concern over the spate of suicides by farmers in the region during her visit to her hometown in Amravati last month and suggested several measures to alleviate the plight of the distressed farmers. None of them seem to have made an impact.
Prime Minister Manmophan Singh too insisted on an immediate food security for the crisis-ridden farmers to prevent large-scale suicides and demanded a fair price for raw cotton and total waivers of loans for farmers.
However, he felt that the loan waiver could only be part of the relief but not a permanent solution to the problems being faced by the farmers over a considerable period of time.
In spite of all the assurances, Kishore Tiwari of Vidarbha Janandolan Samiti, a farmers’ welfare group, claimed that 1689 farmers have committed suicide since Manmohan Singh’s visit in July last year, with 992 deaths having taken place this year alone.
“Even after the assurances, the state cotton co-operative marketing federation centres are still offering a meagre support price for raw cotton,” Tiwari said.
However, the decision to allow cotton farmers to sell their produce in the open market has come as a respite for most.
“For the first time since 1994, the cotton federation stands to earn a profit. Good yield and better remunerative prices would help farmers financially and minimise the chances of farmers taking their own lives,” cotton federation chairman Dr NP Hirani said.